FIEC sees European decline arrested

By Chris Sleight16 June 2014

The European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) says European construction output fell -2.3% last year to € 1,162 billion. However, it forecasts a 0.1% increase this year – equivalent to about € 1 billion additional activity.

FIEC said that cuts in government spending had been particularly damaging to the industry last year, with construction of public non-residential buildings falling -5.5%, while infrastructure was down -3.7%. These losses were offset to some degree by a recovery in housing, which is expected to rise a further 1.0% this year.

FIEC vice president responsible for economic issues, Jacques Huillard said, “There can be no growth without investment. The policy of austerity which has been in favour for the last few years has done enormous damage both to the real economy in general and to the construction sector in particular. This is why we have been constantly calling on the political decision-makers to see sense. This is also the core message of our Manifesto for the 2014-2019 term of office of the new European MPs and Commissioners.”

He continued, “Against this background, we are delighted to notice that some EU Member States are starting to backtrack on the idea that blind austerity policy can solve all of the problems relating to the recession. Although investment in infrastructure and access to credit for businesses are still thorny issues, in a certain number of countries we are seeing measures designed to offer families access to housing, for instance, and these measures have benefitted the residential sector.”

FIEC said the downturn last year saw industry employment fall some -4.1% in the EU. It added that 2013 was the sixth consecutive year that industry employment had fallen.

Despite the tough market conditions following the global financial crisis, FIEC estimates that construction represents some 8.8% of EU GDP, employing 13.8 million workers across 2.9 million enterprises.

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